BURMESE SUNSET

As I write, a group calling itself ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism… ANSW-R?) is pursuing Trotsky’s holy grail: permanent revolution and solidarity with ‘peasants’ -in The Big Apple. To this end they plan to disrupt travel on New York subways during the Martin L. King holiday weekend. A “Shut Down Downtown” march is also planned for Washington, D.C.  They claim: “This country needs a sustained nationwide movement against racism and police terror”. Other goals include solidarity with North Korea, Afghanistan and Cuba.

Near Chicago, the bench trial of a black policeman charged with reckless homicide in the shooting death of World War II veteran John Wrana just ended, with a ruling expected early February.

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Wrana- three civilians who died in confrontations with police- but only the first two gained massive national media attention and sympathy. It's hard not to conclude that’s because Wrana was a white victim, the others black.

The hate of Ismaaiyl Brinsley who coolly assassinated two policeman in New York was certainly fanned by five months of continuous press coverage and protests against police, growing in heat and intensity until December 13 when a large group of “activists” marched through the streets of Manhattan chanting "Whadda we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” Days later two Brooklyn policemen were ambushed and murdered by an angry Brinsley, seeking to avenge the black man, Eric Garner, of whom he had heard so much for so long.

Following the assassinations, ‘movement’ leaders bristled at any suggestion they pause their protests. Al Sharpton’s powerful political ally, New York City’s rookie Mayor Bill de Blasio, requested that protests cease while families of the policemen bury their dead: “Let’s comfort these families, let’s see them through these funerals,” he said, “Then debate can begin again.”  Sharpton rebuffed him, calling it: “an ill-defined request.”

John Wrana, 95, was one of the last of what Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation” who sprouted midst the Great Depression. A decorated Army Air Corps veteran of the US campaign in Burma, he lived at the Victory Center assisted care facility in Park Forest, IL, a postwar suburb nicknamed “GI town”, with road names like ‘Victory’ and ‘Liberty’, built to house returning WWII veterans and their families.

July 26, 2013. Wrana, likely delusional from a urinary tract infection, wasn’t letting anyone lay hands on him when nursing home staff came to take him to the hospital for treatment. He batted at an ambulance attendant with his walking cane.

Every (non- comatose) attendant at a nursing home or ambulance service should know that Assisted Care means “to help adults live independently in a safe environment”. They should also know from Elderly Care 101 that: “The population most likely to experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) is the elderly… Elderly people with serious urinary tract infection don't exhibit the hallmark sign of fever because their immune system is unable to mount a response to infection due to the effects of aging… UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken as the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's… because symptoms include: confusion, or delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations and other behavioral changes, poor motor skills, dizziness and falling.” (National Institutes of Health)

But Victory Home staff decided to call police to force John Wrana to the hospital. When officers arrived, Wrana tried to keep them at bay with things at hand in his room: a shoehorn, then a small knife. The officers called others, and asked a supervisor to bring a plastic riot shield.

John wouldn’t come out, so police decided to escalate, entering Wrana’s room forcibly for “a violent extrication”. Five officers crashed in. The commander, riot shield in left hand and Taser in his right, tried to shock Wrana, but failed.

Taser info 101 for non-comatose officers: “Some individuals may be particularly susceptible to the effects… (For) the elderly, those with heart conditions, asthma or other pulmonary conditions, and people suffering from excited delirium… (a Taser) may cause or contribute to sudden death.”

The Taser missed. Taylor then fired a ‘bean bag’ round at Wrana from a range of 5 to 7 feet.

“Bean bag” round- the term has the same connotation as “rubber” bullet, suggesting a child’s toy; a Bozo’s Circus prop that kiddies toss at buckets. But the bags are not packed with beans, rather some 40 grams (1.4 oz.) of #9 lead shot. That’s equal in weight to about sixteen .22 long rifle slugs per bag! This bagful of lead shot is fired from a standard 12 gauge shotgun at 230 to 300 feet per second (up to 204 miles per hour) impacting about 1 sq. inch of body area.

More Beanbag 101 facts for the non-comatose: The ammo’s instruction sheet warns that tests by the US Army Land Warfare Laboratory found the ‘bean bag’ has: “a high probability of producing Severe Damage” at ranges shorter than 15 feet”. In fact, these rounds can be lethal at thirty feet; or even at fifty feet if a person is struck in the head or heart area.

“Impact energies between 30 and 90 foot pound are 'dangerous', i.e. contusions, abrasions, broken ribs, concussions, loss of the eyes or superficial organ damage, whereas 'Severe Damage' occurs if impact exceeds 90 foot pounds. 'Severe Damage' includes serious skin lacerations, massive skull fractures, rupture of the heart and kidney, fragmentation of the liver, and hemorrhages. This ammunition has a high probability of being lethal or producing Severe Damage as defined above at less than 5 yds.” The ammo literature also lists areas restricting the use of bean bag rounds, including Chicago, noting “FOID required for all IL Cities.”

So, despite manufacturer and US Army warnings that firing a bean bag round at a person 15 feet or less from you has a “high probability of producing Severe Damage”, Craig Taylor stood at less than half that distance (5 to 7 feet) and opened fire on Wrana, a diminutive, ailing 95 year old war vet.

Taylor then blasted Wrana (who apparently had now been knocked back into the chair) with four additional rounds from the shotgun.

Officer Taylor was the only person on trial. Something appears seriously wrong with Taylor. But something is also seriously wrong with training, discipline and procedure in the Park Forest Police Department and the Victory Center home.

Taylor, 44, muscular, fit and apparently unconcerned, sat with his lawyer Terry Eckel in a press conference before the non-jury trial.

Eckel: “Everybody believes this was a justified shooting”. Taylor: “I felt that I did my job… what my superiors wanted me to do”. He expressed no emotion when speaking of the shooting, nor did he express even a word of regret for blasting Wrana into eternity. Instead he used the press conference to appeal for public sympathy. Taylor: “My youngest daughter- when I told her, she took it to heart. She asked me - she said: ‘Daddy, why are they arresting you for doing your job? Why are they arresting you because you were doing what they told (them) to do? And my answer was: ‘I don’t know.’”

The fact that Taylor inserted “em” or “them” instead of “you” at that point may or may not be revealing, but the fact that he inserted his baby daughter into his defense is revolting.


By April 2014 police were claiming they were in fear of their lives.  They described the table or steak knife as “a twelve-inch butcher knife” and that they “mistook for a machete” the shoe horn Wrana was holding. It gets better.

Paramedic Chya Hughes claimed the old veteran (apparently seated when they crashed through his door) "jumped out of the chair with the speed of an MMA fighter". Miracles never cease! A 95-year-old veteran shuffling around with a cane and walker, suddenly morphs into a lightning-quick mixed martial artist, striking cold fear into the hearts of five beefy policemen and assorted emergency workers. A little more physical evidence could have helped Eckel’s client. A pair or two of undershorts soiled by these panic-stricken police and paras would lend their story a little weight.

Prosecutors claimed Wrana died after refusing an operation to stanch internal bleeding. Wrana’s family disputes this, saying the vet long had a do-not-resuscitate order in place, and a doctor told them that due to massive wounds inflicted by Taylor, he would likely not survive surgery. At Christ Hospital, it was discovered over a liter of blood had poured into his abdomen.

A doctor called his step-daughter, Sharon Mangerson, saying Wrana wanted to speak with her. “He just said, ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for me’” said Mangerson, ‘“I love you and goodbye.’ That was it.” Five hours after Taylor shot him, the old vet died.


© 2015 Mike Morley                                                                                                                                                                    

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